THE Camrose will stage a dress rehearsal for the Hampshire Senior Cup final on Saturday (kick-off 3pm), when Basingstoke Town host Havant and Waterlooville in the Conference South.
The teams will meet in the county cup final at Fratton Park on May 12 and both sides will be desperate for three points this weekend, not only to improve their league position but also to give themselves a psychological edge for the final.
The sides have already met three times this season, with the south Hampshire side having the upper hand so far. They won 4-1 when Town visited Westleigh Park in the league back in October before progressing to the second round of the FA Trophy at Basingstoke’s expense, winning 1-0 at home after a goal-less draw at the Camrose.
The sides are very much on different trajectories at the moment.
Town’s play-off dreams are all but over following a run of four games without a win, while Havant remain in contention for a place in the top five after losing just one of their last 12.
Basingstoke manager Jason Bristow said: “Havant will believe that they have a real chance of reaching the play-offs. They are on a great run and it will be really tough.
“They have some fantastic individuals and are doing well collectively as well. They reached the semi-finals of the FA Trophy, which shows how good they are, and will be keen to push on and make up the ground to the top five with all of their games in hand.”
A big crowd is expected for what is a Hampshire derby and, after playing their last two home games in front of less than 200 people, Bristow is looking for a big performance.
“The crowds have been disappointing for the last couple of games, but hopefully we will have a few more people come along on Saturday,” he said. “If that is the case, then it is up to us to perform and make sure that they come back.”
Town will be without Simon Dunn (hamstring), while Neil Barrett (hamstring) is also a doubt. However, Manny Williams could return after a groin problem, while Jordace Holder-Spooner (knee) should also be back to full fitness.
Basingstoke are also in action at the Camrose on Tuesday night (kick-off 7.45pm), hosting Concord Rangers.
“Concord have adjusted to the league really well and are pushing for a place in the top 10,” Bristow added. “They will be a big, physical team and it will be a difficult test for us.”
Visit basingstokegazette.co.uk/sport for live text coverage of both games.